Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has announced a new plan to address the challenge of irregular migration from North Africa and the Middle East to Europe. The plan, dubbed the ‘Rome Process’, aims to establish a multi-year roadmap to promote economic growth, security and human rights in the countries of origin and transit of migrants and enhance cooperation among authorities to prevent departures and combat smuggling networks.
Meloni hosted an international conference on development and migration in Rome on Sunday, which was attended by leaders or senior officials from African, Middle Eastern and Southern European countries, as well as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
In her opening speech, Meloni said that “illegal migration damages everyone but smugglers who use their power against the states” and that “our priority should be to cooperate more among police and intelligence forces and keep ships used to smuggle migrants under control”.
She also stressed the need to address the root causes of migration, such as poverty, conflict, climate change and human rights violations, by supporting the development and stability of the countries in the region.
Von der Leyen praised Meloni’s initiative and said that “opening new legal pathways between our continents can create a real and safe alternative to the dangerous journeys across the sea”. She also announced that the EU is boosting its financial support to Tunisia, one of the main gateways for irregular migration, to more than €100 million this year, almost three times the average provided to the nation over the last two years. She added that the EU hopes to sign similar agreements with other countries in the near future.
Grandi welcomed the ‘Rome Process’ as “the start of a new dialogue between Europe and the Mediterranean” and urged all parties to respect the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, as well as their international obligations. He also called for more solidarity and responsibility-sharing among EU member states in hosting and integrating asylum seekers.
The conference concluded with a joint declaration that endorsed the ‘Rome Process’ as a framework for cooperation and dialogue on migration issues. The declaration also outlined some concrete actions.
The declaration also expressed support for existing regional initiatives, such as the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the Rabat Process, the Khartoum Process, and the Valletta Summit. It also invited other countries and organizations to join the ‘Rome Process’ in the future.
The ‘Rome Process’ is seen as a major step in tackling irregular migration, while others view it as another initiative that may not yield significant results.